Monday 3 February 2014

First Impressions: HappinessCharge PreCure!

HappinessCharge PreCure

Toei's various superhero works have been the focus of much of my attention for a while now, given my now-religious following of both the Kamen Rider and Super Sentai franchises. But there is one popular animated franchise often closely linked with the Super Hero Time block that I am yet to turn my attention towards. Pretty Cure is a long running magical girl franchise that has branched out into a number of various series, movies, manga, video games and toys (this is Toei after all!), and is currently celebrating its 10th anniversary with a brand new series - HappinessCharge PreCure! (which is actually the 11th show, but whatever). Since sampling franchises during their anniversary year seems to have become sort of staple for me, I decided that 2014 would be the year I take the plunge into an anime primarily aimed at young girls...

While my knowledge of the Pretty Cure franchise is next to nothing other than the obvious (they are magical girls, they fight evil, buy the toys) but as is the case with most yearly reboot shows the plot was easy enough to pick up. The evil Phantom Empire and their ruler, Queen Mirage, begin their invasion of Earth with an army of monsters. As Pretty Cures across the world battle against them, the Blue Sky Kingdom's crown princess Hime Shirayuki joins the fight as Cure Princess. Unfortunately for her, she isn't very adept at fighting - earning her the scorn of fellow Pretty Cure Cure Fortune.

In need of a partner, Hime is given a crystal of love to seek out a friend to become a new Pretty Cure. Not quite understanding how it works, she throws the crystal into the air and decides to befriend the person that it hits. This happens to be the happy-go-lucky Megumi Aino, who joins the fight as Cure Lovely!

I don't feel I should be so judgmental about obvious product placement in shows since I watch Kamen Rider and Super Sentai, but wow did it feel really obvious here. It might just be because its the first episode or that I'm more used to it in live-action shows, but the constant closeups of transformation mirrors, cards and dially-wrist things were so obvious I couldn't help but laugh most of the time. As fabulous as they were, those transformation scenes also felt like they went on forever...

That being said, the first episode of HappinessCharge PreCure! was actually pretty good. Recent Toei Animation products are met with equal amounts of love and scorn by the anime community, but personally I find the bright colours and distinct character designs to really suit the show. All you can really get from the characters so far are basic character traits (Hime is good-hearted but currently useless, Fortune is aloof, Lovely is energetic) but its more than enough to keep things interesting. Plus how can I say no to anything featuring the lovely vocal talents of Megumi Nakajima?

So while it wasn't quite enough to get me to see just what the fuss is about with PreCure yet, its enough to make me want to tune in every week for 20 minutes of pure sugar.

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